Background

The South African Foreign Policy Initiative (SAFPI) is a programme established by and based at the Open Society Foundation for South Africa (OSF-SA) in Cape Town.

SAFPI is intended to promote understanding of the ways in which South Africa articulates its foreign policy principles on the international stage in service of realising a more equitable world order. It is envisioned as a multi-year project with its relative permanence hopefully permitting SAFPI to become a centre of excellence in thinking about how SA's foreign policy behaviour and articulation of global governance might promote greater fairness, for the individual and state.

The main goals of SAFPI are to: 1) establish itself as an independent institution which assesses South Africa's foreign policy in reference to the domestic and external drivers that influence Pretoria's national interest and 2) to embark on other significant areas of inquiry as these impact on South Africa's foreign policy in the evolving international arena.

The Initiative actively pursues partnerships and collaborations with institutions within and outside SA, including the Open Society Foundation's global networks so that a substantive scholarship on the country's foreign policy can be realised through peer-learning and exchange of knowledge.

Moreover, it provides a platform that nurtures open critical dialogue and debate which fills gaps relating to issues of SA's foreign policy, while reserving its right to assert positions as necessary.

The objectives of SAFPI include:

  1. Functioning as a prominent forum for convening South African and international statesmen and women and opinion leaders;
  2. Serving as a platform for forging consensus on the priorities, terms and conditions of South Africa's global engagement;
  3. Becoming a dedicated resource for SAFPI stakeholders including government officials, civil society, the private sector, journalists, educators, students and the interested public in order to help them better understand the world and foreign policy choices facing South Africa; and
  4. Engaging premier think-tanks (domestically and internationally) on matters relating to South Africa's foreign policy.

The programme seeks to achieve its goals, and activities by:

  1. Funding and commissioning research projects, policy briefs and expert analytical papers relevant to the study of South Africa's foreign policy in the 21st century.
  2. Acting as an advocacy platform, especially on issues that require an urgent response.
  3. Hosting workshops, roundtables and conferences in order to promote different perspectives and understanding of the factors that influence South Africa's foreign policy actions.
  4. Sustaining a network and database of individuals and partners to engage in multi-media debates and discussions towards broadening and popularising debates on foreign policy.
  5. Supporting interactions between visiting scholars and SAFPI stakeholders on topics related to SA's bilateral and multilateral engagements.
  6. Developing an information hub that will publish relevant commentaries and offer a round-up of main news stories related to SA's foreign policy activities.
  7. Serving as a repository of official and other significant documentation that is important in understanding South Africa's foreign policy and its impact

The programme is governed by an advisory board comprising of members from think tanks and independent experts who assist in shaping and guidance of the programme.

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